I never planned to come here during the Olympics - that's just how it worked out - but right from the beginning, it was an unavoidable force of nature. A bed in an 18-share dorm was going for £55 ($87) per night, and the Jordanian Olympic team was on the same flight as me out of Amman. It continued on from there. Walking the South Bank of the Thames towards the Tower Bridge, I passed Matt Lauer and Al Roker broadcasting live for the Today Show, and a few minutes later I passed Danny DeVito... except I don't know what he has to do with the Olympics...
I did touristy things (Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral) and local things (market shopping and pints with friends). I even saw the new face of London, breaking the daily fast of Ramadan with traditional cuisine (courtesy of my Iraqi family), but the Olympics would not leave me be. On an innocent jaunt past Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard, I noticed a gathering crowd and stayed to see William, Kate, Harry, and the Great Britain team greet the Olympic torch as it passed.
This was all good fun, but I had to get out of town. I took a day trip to Oxford to tour the 1,000-year-old campus, with special influence on Harry Potter filming sites. Then it was off to Bath to pay homage to Jane Austen. Scones and tea were had. Finally, a quick walk around Stonehenge, and I left rather enchanted with the western counties.
Back in Londontown, the Olympics were in full swing. The global capital was even more global than usual, and I could go an hour or two downtown without hearing a single English accent. Out in the residential areas, though, it was business as usual. A couple of friends took me to a local pub for Sunday roast and recruited me for quiz night where we brought in a respectable bronze. Olympics or none, London definitely places in my list of world-class cities, and I hope to return some day to experience their hospitality again.